Napoleon (musical)

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Napoleon is a musical by Timothy Williams and Andrew Sabiston. It premiered at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto on 23 March 1994 with Jérôme Pradon in the title role and Aline Mowat as leading lady Josephine. Directed by John Wood and orchestrated by David Cullen, it was the largest ever Canadian-created musical.[1] It was nominated for a Dora Award for Best Musical.

The musical had a second production at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End with previews from 30 September 2000. It officially opened on 13 October 2000, and starred Paul Baker and Uwe Kröger (who performed three of the eight a week in the title role), with Anastasia Barzee as Josephine. It was directed by Francesca Zambello and produced by Duncan C. Weldon. The orchestrations were by Jonathan Tunick.[2] The London production ran for six months.

Work on a new version of the musical began in 2009 when director Richard Ouzounian helmed an concert version in Barrie, Ontario[3] with the story narrated by the character Talleyrand, the political mastermind who helped shape Napoleon’s career. The concert starred Adam Brazier, Blythe Wilson and Chip Mitchell.

This marked the beginning of a complete reimagining of the musical as an intimate, behind-the-scenes political drama with a cast half the size of the original productions and a new book and score. The new Napoleon will debut at the The New York Musical Theatre Festival in July 2015 under the direction of Richard Ouzounian. Modern parallels with the making of leaders today figure strongly in the narrative, in which Napoleon as a young and promising rising star is discovered, latched onto, then managed and manipulated. The story charts Talleyrand's pride in taking a common man and placing him on the throne of an empire vaster than Rome. His machinations impact every aspect of Napoleon’s journey, over which Talleyrand sees himself as the master. But what Talleyrand isn’t prepared for is Napoleon’s sheer force of character, and his obsession with Josephine.

Authors[edit]

Timothy Williams is a multi-award winning composer and orchestrator for theatre, film, and video games. Film highlights include Wild Horses, written and directed by Robert Duvall, (Robert Duvall, James Franco and Josh Hartnett), Walking With the Enemy (Ben Kingsley), The Mulberry Tree (Joe Morton), Red Sky (Rachel Leigh Cook and Bill Pullman), Debug (Jason Momoa), and Beyond All Boundaries (Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt). He has written additional music for and orchestrated/conducted Guardians of the Galaxy, Sucker Punch, Watchmen, The Day the Earth Stood Still and 300. For Disney/Universal, his live theatrical works include adaptations and orchestrations of ALADDIN (book by Chad Beguelin), WICKED (for Tokyo), TANGLED - THE MUSICAL (currently in production) and twenty other shows directed by Gordon Greenberg, Joe Calarco and Eric Schaeffer. He recently arranged the songs for up and coming artist Zella Day. He has won a Dora Award and two Thea awards.

Andrew Sabiston is a writer, series developer, executive story editor and performer in the children’s/youth television market with over 900 episodes to his credit. Many of the programs in which he has been involved are multiple award-winners airing globally and include: Little Bear; Max & Ruby; Mike the Knight; Arthur; Justin Time; Trucktown; Bo On the Go; My Big Big Friend; The Moblees; Little Charmers; The Adventures of Napkin Man; Donkey Kong Country; The Neverending Story; Droids, Super Mario Brothers; Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs; Babar and Badou, and The Travels of the Young Marco Polo. A 2015 Canadian Screen Award Nominee for Best Writing,[4] he also had three of his scripts nominated for Best Series in various categories in the 2015 Youth Media Alliance Awards.[5]

Plot[edit]

The plot of the Toronto and London productions centered on Napoleon Bonaparte's rise from a common man to the leader of France and his relationship to his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais.

In the 2015 version the story is told through the eyes of Talleyrand, whose machinations and deceptions help to both make and destroy his political protege: There are icons, and those who help make them. Talleyrand is a master politician operating in the shadows. He thinks he can manage the man he’s grooming for greatness. But there’s one thing he can’t control – Napoleon’s obsession with Josephine. In the battle to come, two of the three will be known forever. One will emerge as the devil incarnate.

Recordings[edit]

The original cast recording of Napoleon was released by EMI Angel Broadway and has become a cult item. A bonus track was recorded by Dan Hill and reached number 16 on the Canadian charts. Songs from Napoleon have been covered by Dan Hill, Stig Rossen, Uwe Kröger, Stephanie Martin, Adam Brazier, and Blythe Wilson.

In 2001, First Night Records released a 5-track Cast Recording of the Original London Cast. Re-orchestrated, it features only one new song ("Only In Fantasy"), sung by Anastasia Barzee. The entire full score with the large orchestra was recorded and is available for listening on the official website, but unfortunately due to union contracts and payment issues, the cast recording remains unreleased for purchasing.

Also in 2001, Uwe Kröger recorded the song "Sweet Victory Divine", Napoleon's rousing Act 1 Finale, for the CD version of the concert "So In Love With Musicals", also starring Pia Douwes.

In 2009, to mark the 15th anniversary of the Toronto production, the original 1994 cast album with Jérôme Pradon and Aline Mowat was released by Stage Door Records (UK), with 15 tracks. The original release was 18 tracks.

Songs were recently incorporated into Field of Dreams and Anthology of Canadian Musicals. Excerpts can frequently be heard on Radio programs hosted by Richard Ouzounian in Canada and Elaine Paige in England.

References[edit]

External links[edit]